The Cloud

Consider the following “Cloud” images from the Sriptures:

A rainbow in the clouds is a sign of God’s covenant with humanity after the flood (Genesis 19:16.)

The Lord led Israel by a cloud during the day as they wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21.)

At Mt. Sinai the presence of the Lord was demonstrated by a cloud descending on the mountain top (Exodus 19:16.)

As a sign of the Lord’s glory and presence, a cloud descended on both the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple of Solomon (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10-11.)

The Psalmists envisioned God riding on the clouds and clouds advancing out of the brightness of his presence (Psalm 68:4, 18:12.)

In Daniel’s vision of the Ascension he saw the Son of Man (Jesus) coming with the clouds of heaven before the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13.)

Jesus ascended into a cloud (Acts 1:9) and is prophesied to return on the clouds (Matt. 24:30)

I bring these images to mind because this coming Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday (for those of us who follow the Revised Common Lectionary) and once again, on the Mount of the Transfiguration, there is a cloud:

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” ~ Matthew 17:5

The Cloud surrounds and fills Old Testament objects that foreshadow Jesus: the rainbow, Mt. Sinai, the Tabernacle, and The Temple. The Cloud is associated with the presence and coming of the Lord – so much so that when the Son of God comes in the flesh as the man Jesus his Transfiguration, Ascension, and Second Coming all take place in The Cloud.

This symbolism – and the ultimate identity – of The Cloud of Glory makes sense when you think of this ancient formula of Christian worship:

Glory to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

It is in the Holy Spirit, through the Son, that the Father makes his covenant with humanity – first with Noah and then with everyone through Jesus. It is in the Holy Spirit, through the Son, that the Father has spoken to humanity – first to Israel through the Law and then to everyone through Jesus. It is in the Holy Spirit, through the Son, that the Father has taken up residence with humanity – first with Israel through the Temple and then with everyone through Jesus. It is in the Holy Spirit, through the Son, that the Father has revealed himself through the Transfiguration, the Ascension, and the Second Coming of Jesus.

All this takes place in The Holy Spirit who is The Cloud that surrounds, infuses, and fills the whole creation. Bathed in the Father’s outpouring of the Spirit’s life through Jesus (Acts 2:17) we live and move and have our being in the very glory of the life of the Triune God (Acts 17:28) because The Cloud that is the Holy Spirit has enveloped our existence.

Part of the message of the Transfiguration is that we don’t have to go searching for the Holy Spirit of God. The Son of the Father has brought him to us and has immersed us in him. Because humanity is in Jesus and Jesus is in humanity we simply need to let the Father’s voice open our eyes to see who Jesus really is and know that The Cloud of the Glory of the Spirit surrounds and fills our lives, our relationships, and our future. When we are able to see this truth we can begin to live in every moment with a greater awareness of how the Spirit is encouraging, sustaining, and leading us.

 

4 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    That puts a whole new twist on having our heads in the clouds. I guess that is where the writers of the bible had their heads! 😉

    Thank you,

    Boyd

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Ha Ha! Well said, Boyd, as usual. A guy in my church on Sunday also said this brings new meaning to the idea of having a “cloud hanging over you.”

  3. Jerome Ellard on

    Loved your post, Pastor Tim…made me aware of the gentle, enveloping presence of the Holy Spirit, nurturing us all, making us aware of our actual fellowship in the Ultimate Fellowship.

  4. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks Jerome! By the way, I (Jonathan) wrote this one, not Tim.


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